Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer who is generally regarded as one of the best in Western music history. He took the achievement of the Viennese Classical school to its pinnacle with Haydn and Beethoven. He composed in many of his day's musical styles and excelled in each one, unlike any other musician in musical history. His taste, mastery of structure, and range of language have made him seem to be the most universal of all composers; nevertheless, his music was often written to cater to unique audiences' individual preferences. Wolfgang Amadé or Wolfgang Gottlieb was the most famous name Mozart used. His father, Leopold, came from a well-respected family of architects and bookbinders (from whom he was estranged). Leopold was the creator of a well-known violin-playing manual that was written in Mozart's birth year. Anna Maria Pertl, his mum, was born into a middle-class family with links to local government. The only two of their seven children to survive were Mozart and his sister Maria Anna ("Nannerl"). The little boy had a rare musical ability. At the age of three, he started picking out chords on the harpsichord; at the age of four, he was playing short parts, and at the age of five, he began writing. There are stories of his perfect pitch ability, scribbling a concerto when he was five, and his gentleness and sensitivity (he was afraid of the trumpet). His father brought him and Nannerl, another talented musician, to Munich to perform at the Bavarian court just before turning six. A few months later, they went to Vienna to perform at the imperial court and in noble houses. In Paris, they met many German composers, and Mozart's first music was published; in London, they met Johann Christian Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach's younger son and a prominent figure in the city's musical existence, and Mozart wrote his first symphonies—three of which survive (K 16, K 19, and K 19a—K denoting the work's position in Ludwig von Köchel's catalog).
On the way back, two more appeared during a stop in The Hague (K 22 and K 45a). In September 1767, after a little more than nine months in Salzburg, the Mozarts embarked on a 15-month journey to Vienna. Bastien und Bastienne, a one-act German singspiel written by Mozart, was performed privately. The idea of seeing an Italian opera buffa, La finta semplice ("The Feigned Simpleton"), performed at the court theatre, piqued Leopold's interest—hopes that were, nonetheless, dashed, much to his chagrin. However, at the Orphanage Church's dedication, a substantial, festal mass setting was successfully granted before the court. The following year, in 1769, La finta semplice was performed in the archbishop's palace in Salzburg. Mozart was made an honorary Konzertmeister at the Salzburg court in October.
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